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Acne.  It presents many challenges that can become frustrating.  Untreated acne can leave permanent scars- and no one wants that.  Your skin is, in fact, your largest organ and deserves a great deal of your attention and care. Acne scars result from inflammation of acne blemishes that then affect the tissue surrounding the pores. As the acne pore swells, a breakdown occurs inside the wall of the pore, which sometimes spills into that surrounding tissue and causes much deeper scarring. Sometimes scarring results in a deep indentation of the skin due to loss of tissue.  Other times, scarring is caused by the creation of new collagen fibers as the skin attempts to repair the scar and leaves a raised scar.

Not all acne will result in scars, so, let’s talk about how to treat acne scars, then.

There are three main types of acne scars:

  • Ice pick: An ice pick tool has a wide shaft that narrows down to the tip. This type of acne scar resembles the tool in that it’s a hole that’s wide at the top and narrows to a point as it goes deeper into the skin. Such an indentation is common and also one of the most challenging scars to heal. You’ll find them on your forehead and upper cheeks, where your skin is thinner.
  • Rolling: These scars are typically found on the lower cheeks and jaw, where your skin is thicker. The indents have sloping edges that make the skin look uneven and wavy.
  • Boxcar: Boxcar scars are indents that have sharper edges. Those edges go down deep into the skin. These scars are common on the lower cheeks and jaw.

The type of scar is determined by its size, shape, and contour and acne scars are different from acne marks because scars can become a permanent part of skin if they are not treated.


Controlling and treating acne is the best way to start. Many types of acne typically respond well to topical treatments that include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur.  You apply these OTC medications directly to the affected area for results. The spot treatment method treats existing irritations but does not prevent them.  To prevent them, use a cleanser, lotion and/ or cream that has the same medications. It may take up to 8 weeks to see improvement, so patience is the key. More severe inflamed acne breakouts may also require a prescribed treatment method, such as retinoids and erythromycin to improve symptoms. A dermatologist can help prescribe this type of acne regimen.


Evening out skin tones is a great place to start.  Often, if discoloration is not visible then the scarring is not as bothersome or noticeable. A vitamin C serum is one OTC option, as is retinol.  There are also mild peels infused with a variety of acids, such as lactic, glycolic, and trichloroacetic, which will exfoliate and rejuvenate skin into a more smooth and even texture.

If acne scarring is something affecting your skin, Arlington Dermatology is committed to helping you with your skin care needs.  Some of the services that we provide in our office include topical and/or oral antibiotics. Chemical peels, laser treatments, injections of corticosteroids, birth control pills, and microdermabrasion are other common treatments for acne.

Visit our website at or call our office at 847-725-0824 for assistance today.